Paid Sick Days FAQs


1. What is a guaranteed paid sick day?

2. Why do we need paid sick days?

3. Who is affected by paid sick days?

4. If I don't get paid sick days why should other people?

5. Won't it hurt businesses?

6. What is the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign Doing?


More FAQs

What is a guaranteed paid sick day?


Paid sick days are yearly allotments of time designated by an employer during which an employee is allowed to stay home from work in order to take care of themselves, a sick family member, or attend a doctor’s appointment – and still be paid for that day off from work.


Currently, there are no U.S. state laws (except in the District of Columbia) that require employers to provide paid sick leave benefits for their employees, or even sick leave without pay.  The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to grant qualified employees up to 12 weeks of sick leave but it does not require employers to grant paid sick leave.  While some workers may have sick leave, many of them are not guaranteed to still receive that day’s wages.


The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without mandatory paid sick days.  Only about half of U.S. employees receive paid sick days – leaving about 59 million people without them.



Why do we need paid sick days?


Workers should not be afraid to stay home sick out of fear of losing their day’s wages – it should be a right.  They should also be able to stay home and care for a sick child or family member who needs them. No Vermonter should have to choose between paying for their basic needs and taking care of their health.  If a worker is sick at work they risk infecting co-workers and other people around them.  Similarly, if a parent sends their sick child to school because he/she can not stay home, that child runs a high risk of getting his/her classmates sick. 



Who is affected by paid sick days?


Everyone is.  When workers do not receive guaranteed paid sick days they are not able to take of themselves or their loved ones.  Nearly two-thirds (57%) of Vermont’s private-sector employers offer no paid sick days to their workers, leaving over 106,000 Vermonters without paid sick leave.


Low-wage workers and women are the most acutely affected by a lack of paid sick days.  Working women increasingly find themselves in the precarious position of being the dominant care-givers in our society, yet are more likely to lose income when they or a family member become sick. National studies indicate that half of working mothers miss work when a child comes down with a common illness – with two-thirds of low-income mothers and one-third of middle and upper income mothers reporting lost pay to care for a sick child.


If I don’t get paid sick days why should other people?


If other people receive paid sick days it will decrease your chance of getting sick.  Paid sick days can control illness in high risk settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes, where the impact of contagious disease is most acute.  A study of disease outbreaks in nursing homes found that the risk of having respiratory or gastrointestinal disease outbreaks was less for nursing homes with paid employee sick day policies. 



Won’t it hurt businesses?


No.  It will actually benefit businesses to allow their employees paid sick days.  Workers who come in sick cost our national economy $180 billion annually in lost productivity.  For employers, this costs an average of $255 per employee per year – exceeding the cost of absenteeism and medical disability benefits


Employees with paid sick days are less likely to leave their jobsEvery time an employee leaves a job, it costs the employer 25% of a worker’s total compensation, on average, across all industries, to replace that workerRecruitment of new employees lowers productivity by increasing the workload for human resources, supervisors and other employers The productivity of workers with even minor illnesses goes down compared to the productivity of their healthy co-workers



What is the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign Doing?


The Vermont Livable Wage Campaign (VLWC) is working with other Vermont Paid Sick Day Coalition members, including Voices for Vermont’s Children, to improve the present situation and enact change that will provide universal access to paid sick leave for all working Vermonters.  We are also working closely with the Vermont Workers Center “Health Care is a Human Right” campaign to build a movement for paid sick leave and for the recognition that, like paid sick days, health care is a human right in Vermont. 


The VLWC believes the economic benefits of paid sick days, especially for women, are clear – more Vermont families will be protected when they or a family member become sick. Vermont workers will no longer need to worry about lost pay and the risk of being fired, suspended, or incurring negative performance records as a result of taking time from work to treat illnesses. They will be able to stay home and care for themselves, thus reducing the spread of contagions in the workplace.


We want all people who work more than 30 hours per week to be guaranteed 7 paid sick days annually and sick leave to be pro-rated for part-time workers.



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